, Volume 12, Issue 7, pp 461-469

Dietary intervention in older adults with early-stage Alzheimer Dementia: Early lessons learned

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Abstract

In older adults, an adequate diet depends on their ability to procure and prepare food and eat independently or the availability of dietary assistance when needed. Inadequate food intake or increased nutritional requirements lead to poor nutritional status, which is considered a key determinant of morbidity, increased risk of infection, and mortality in elderly individuals. Weight loss among seniors also heralds increased morbidity and mortality. Dietary behaviour disorders affecting food consumption, nutrition status and maintenance of body weight are common in older adults, and have a substantial impact on nutritional status and quality of life among older adults with Alzheimer Dementia (AD). The Nutrition Intervention Study (NIS) is ongoing. It employs a quasi-experimental pre-post intervention design in physically-well, community-dwelling early stage AD patients aged 70y or older. To date, 34 intervention group patients and 25 control group participants have been recruited with their primary caregivers (CG) from 6 hospital-based memory and geriatric clinics in Montreal. The NIS uses clinical dietetics principles to develop and offer tailored dietary strategies to patients and their CG. This paper reports on the application of dietary intervention strategies in two intervention group participants; one was deemed successful while the other was considered unsuccessful. The report documents challenges encountered in assessing and counselling this clientele, and seeks to explain the outcome of intervention in these patients.